Trump And The Epiphany of Clarity: The Case For And Against Self-Pardons

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedBelow is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the continuing debate over the constitutionality of self-pardons.  While I view this question as a close one, I do not agree with commentators like Brookings Fellow Norman Eisen that any claim that a president can self-pardon is “absurd.”  To the contrary, I believe that Trump would have a 50-50 chance in any challenge.

Of course, the first challenge to working out the merits of such arguments would be securing judicial view. In case like Ex Parte Garland (1866), the Supreme Court has previously treated the pardon power as largely unfettered and political in natural – a power that can be used for any federal offense before, during or after a prosecution. It is not something ordinarily subject to judicial review. It is possible that a federal prosecutor could seek to bring a charge and force a court to rule on a motion to quash an indictment based on a prior self-pardon.  A decision could easily go either way on this type of close and intractable question.

Here is the column:

The one thing that President Trump appears to bring to the nation is clarity where confusion once reigned. For centuries, academics have debated whether a president could give himself a pardon without resolution. However, with Trump and his research on what he had called his “complete power to pardon,” there seems to be a sudden epiphany of clarity that the Constitution bars Trump from pardoning himself.

As I have long maintained, the Constitution should bar self-pardons. The problem is that it does not — at least not expressly. Article II of the Constitution, states that a president may “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” There is no language specifying who may or may not be the subject of a pardon. The president is simply given the power to pardon any federal crime.

The problem is not ambiguity per se. The language is relatively clear and absolute. Nevertheless, some academics find textual support elsewhere. For example, Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe, University of Minnesota Professor Richard Painter and Brookings Fellow Norman Eisen recently wrote, “The Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal. It adds that any official removed through impeachment remains fully subject to criminal prosecution. That provision would make no sense if the president could pardon himself.”

Of course, it depends on your view of what is “sensible.” A self-pardoned president can still be impeached (and indeed such a pardon be included in a count of impeachment). Moreover, the authors are referring to Article I, which says that impeached individuals “shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.”

Yet, under this same argument, a president’s pardoning of any federal official or judge would “make no sense” since they are all supposed to be able to be eligible for prosecution. No one has suggested that a president cannot pardon other members of his administration.

The Supreme Court stated in Schick v. Reed that “the pardoning power is an enumerated power of the Constitution and…its limitations, if any, must be found in the Constitution itself.” That does not mean that the pardon clause itself is the sole basis for interpretation but it does militate against the importation of text-altering extrinsic policies.

The records of the Constitutional Convention are relatively thin on discussion of the pardon authority. One of the most intriguing passageswas James Wilson’s response to Edmund Randolph’s suggestion to bar presidential pardons in treason cases. Wilson opposed the proposal and noted that if the president “himself be a party to the guilt he can be impeached and prosecuted.”

That would obviously assume that either a president did not have the power to self-pardon or did not do so. However, once again, the same thing could be true of lower-ranked officials like Aaron Burr, who was accused of treason. No one has suggested that a president could not pardon a vice president of treason under the same logic.

The Framers were well aware of the abuse of pardons, particularly in England under King Charles II. In 1678, the Parliament moved to impeach the Earl of Danby, the lord high treasurer of England. Danby was selected because they could not impeach the King, who was accused of making deals with France.

The impeachment might have revealed bribes and secret dealings. Charles II pardoned Danby and stopped the impeachment. Parliament responded by limiting pardon power so that it could not prevent an impeachment in the future. That change was made in the 1701 Act of Settlement and imported into Article II some 88 years later.

This incident is telling in another respect. Professor Tribe and his coauthors claim, “The Constitution’s pardon clause has its origins in the royal pardon granted by a sovereign to one of his or her subjects. We are aware of no precedent for a sovereign pardoning himself, then abdicating or being deposed but being immune from criminal process. If that were the rule, many a deposed king would have been spared instead of going to the chopping block.”

As indicated by the Danby incident, the king of England was viewed as beyond the reach of impeachment. Indeed, English kings enjoyed an absolute rule of immunity, hence the rule that “the king can do no wrong.” There would be no need for a pardon of the king in a system where the king could not be charged. Moreover, when kings were deposed, it was not a matter of litigation but revolution.

It would be rather odd for a deposed King James I to claim that he could remain king by pardoning himself after his overthrow. When a sovereign is facing the “chopping block,” it is not over some element of the criminal code but claims of illegitimacy. When the king’s father, Charles I, was executed for treason, he would not have been able to pardon his way out of his beheading by his irate protestant subjects.

The primary rationale for barring self-pardon is not textual or even contextual but policy. “Nemo judex in causa sua” — Latin for “no one can be a judge in his own case” — has long been a touchstone of judicial review. Once the earlier arguments are stripped away, that is the heart of the author’s claims to have a dispositive answer to the question. While President Nixon’s lawyers concluded that he could pardon himself, his Justice Department concluded that he could not based on this rule against being one’s own judge.

Of course, a number of distinctions could be drawn. First, a president is not acting in a true judicial capacity, but rather a political one. His actions are extrajudicial. Second, there are a host of ways that presidents engage in self-dealing like nepotism under the Constitution. Third, the denial of the right of pardon to the president would also mean that he is the only person who is not entitled to this protection since no one else is qualified to exercise the power.

This raises, at least tangentially, the necessity doctrine where all of the judges who have jurisdiction are somehow disqualified from the case because they have an interest in the outcome. In such cases, the disqualification rule is set aside to avoid a denial of justice as shown by Evans v. Gore. A president could find himself the subject of an abusive investigation by opponents and consider a self-pardon just. Yet, he may not want to be forced to resign to benefit from this protection.

A president could also find himself the subject of a campaign by a successor that pledges to charge him and others in his administration. We have had such periods like the lethal fight between Federalists and Jeffersonians. Indeed, we just had a campaign based on a campaign to “lock her up” by Trump himself. In such a circumstance, an outgoing president might issue a self-pardon as well as a pardon of aides.

Finally, and most importantly, the overwhelming opposition for self-dealing does not mean that we can simply graft it onto the language of the Constitution without an amendment. The Framers could have easily excluded presidents and did not. There are concerns raised when “principles of natural law” can be read into clear textual language to exclude individuals or classes of people from constitutional protections.

It is possible that the Framers saw a president as controlling federal prosecutions as head of the executive branch and that a self-pardon would not have been as such a great departure from that inherent power for federal enforcement. It is also possible that they never did clearly resolve this issue.

Any judicial decision could easily go either way on this type of close and intractable question. However, the well-based opposition to self-pardons should not lead to self-delusion. If President Trump were to pardon himself, he could legitimately claim to be acting within the express language of the Constitution.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

117 thoughts on “Trump And The Epiphany of Clarity: The Case For And Against Self-Pardons”

  1. Those who succeed by schadenfreude, fail by schadenfreude. Fate works on those who tempt it most sorely. Were one the head of one’s own business empire, one might take out a registered trademark on the phrase, “You’re fired,” without tempting said fate too sorely. But should that executive get himself elected President, he virtually seals that same sorely tempted fate.

    1. Geez! We should thank our lucky stars for affirmative action.

      How’s that birthrate in a “death spiral” doing?

      Don’t you have some important work to do, Ma’am?

      1. It has been written. 4:48pm August 10th, 2017. Two hundred and two point two consecutive days after high noon January 20th, 2017. Exactly one-tenth of two-thousand and twenty-two consecutive days. It has been written.

  2. That is to say congress can impeach anyone ine the exec whether the faced”advise” and consent or not.

  3. Clearly trump sits in an impeachable posisition. So does everyone he appoints whether they are confirmed by congress or not…because shit flows down hill.

  4. Hello re ipsa loqitur…”except” in cases of impeachment. Clearly if our congress had impeached sayjeh johnson ….. obama could not pardon him. The problem is like bill clinton’s brother or jered. Could either of them be impeached? The probkem isn’t pardon power it’s impeachment power.

  5. “Those of us who expected the worst following the last election were too optimistic.”
    — Roger Rabbit

  6. Presidential Eligibility
    No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

    “… Remember Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes exhausts and murders itself. There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to Say that Democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true in Fact and no where appears in history.”
    From John Adams to John Taylor, 17 December 1814

    Imperial hubris, even the American strain, can be fatal, but even if not, it does not lack for being self absored.

    1. Ben Franklin, we gave you “a republic, if you can keep it.”

      Franklin’s was a restricted-vote republic, distinctly not a one man, one vote democrazy.

      He thought you understood as the vote criteria were Male, European, 21 with 50 lbs. Sterling or 50 acres

      when Franklin and his colleagues established the United States.

      Franklin did not know that Marx was going to impose dictatorship to abrogate American freedom

      59 years later – and that fools would accept slavery under the state over freedom.

  7. Could somebody give me an intelligent answer about why millions of Americans are longing for a dictatorship under Trump. After living so long in our imperfect democracy, I cannot understand why people are so eager to throw it away.

    1. Could somebody give me an intelligent answer about why millions of Americans are longing for a dictatorship under Trump.

      Please provide the evidence that proves this statement true; either with actual evidence of a dictatorship or with the millions of Americans long for one.

      Without that, then all we would be doing is responding to your opinion.

      1. FACTS:
        (1) Trump still has core support of some 35% of GOP voters, which would be approximate to some 15 million Americans.
        (2) Trump is engaged in an unprecedented attack on the freedom of the press, which is a fundamental structure of our democracy.
        (3) Trump is engaged in an unprecedented attacks on the DOJ and U.S. Intell. agencies that are fundamental to our democracy.
        (4) Trump has called for the imprisonment of HRC, called Obama the actual Founder of ISIS, claimed U.S. elections are rigged, and during the campaign stated he would not commit to accepting the results of the Pres. election — all of which violates political tenets that are fundamental to our democracy.
        (5) Trump is pursuing the greatest roll-back of civil rights legislation and enforcement, including an unprecedented voter suppression campaign via an official voter integrity commission with no credible basis of voter fraud, since the 1950s civil rights era.
        (6) Trump is sponsoring mass incarceration policies that would greatly limit the civil rights of U.S. citizens, including barring them from voting for life.
        (7) Trump has publicly stated he wants to limit the scope of the first amendment, change the U.S. Const. definitions of Natural born citizenship; impose bans driven by religious affiliations, and today tweated “Americans worship God”, which contravenes the basic separation of church/state in the U.S.

        Every word written here is a FACT. And tens of MILLIONS of Americans are supporting this anti-American, autocratic and even on some levels dictatorial platform of U.S. politics.

        So go ahead, Olly, just try to prove a single word I’ve written WRONG. Good Luck.

        1. You neglected to point out the FACT that he has aggressively discriminated against his dinner guests by serving them one scoop of ice cream while he gets two scoops.

          Keep me posted when he actually violates the constitution. Me and tens of MILLIONS of Americans will take decisive action.

        2. Thank you for making the case for me! It was clear that Trump was a dictator from early in his campaign. The only thing that stands between our democracy and a Trump dictatorship is that the institutions are still holding.

    2. Affirmative action is dictatorship as it nullifies the right to private property which is the owner’s “…in the exclusion of every other individual,” as Madison defined it before it was written in the U.S. Constitution. Government has no authority to dictate the operation of a free business in terms of matriculation of hiring.

      Welfare is dictatorship as are all other forms of redistribution of wealth which are all definitively precluded with extreme prejudice by the right to private property.

      Government cannot confiscate private property from one individual and award that private property to another indivdual.

      Taxation may occur for security, infrastructure and GENERAL not INDIVIDUAL welfare.

      General means something that all people consume in the same amounts or frequency like currency, water, roads, post office sewer, utilities, etc.

      People must accept their own characteristics and limitations.

      People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom.

      Freedom does not adapt to people…

      dictatorship does.

      Charity is industry conducted in the free markets of the private sector.

  8. “It is possible that a federal prosecutor could seek to bring a charge and force a court to rule on a motion to quash an indictment based on a prior self-pardon. A decision could easily go either way on this type of close and intractable question.”

    The reason most administrations show restraint is the knowledge that their party will not be in power forever an any new rules they apply on their own behalf as the majority party may be used against them next time their party loses power at the ballot.

    In this case, there appears to be no self-constraint on either side. Both parties are guilty of party-protecting power grabs rather than service to the pubic needs. Unless the voters can register their disgust with this sorry state of affairs, the parties are going to lose their support.

    The rule of law depends on the public respecting that law. The leaders need to keep that in mind if they want to retain leadership. They better start working for the public if they want to remain in office. The public is not that dumb.

  9. My bride and I just spent our 40th anniversary gift to ourselves traveling/hiking in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I only watched Canadian TV and read only Canadian newspapers. Canadians care little about this scandal horsesh!t. Regarding Trump, Canadians are most concerned about the upcoming NAFTA negotiations. They are very angry Trudeau gave a terrorist who killed a US soldier $10 million. Over 70% strongly disagree w/ Trudeau giving taxpayer money to this killer. And while their anger is because of the obvious injustice of this, they are also concerned this will put their young, dim witted, Prime Minister behind the 8 ball in the NAFTA negotiations.

    1. Sounds like you had a good time (and even stayed au courant on NAFTA anyway, and Happy Anniversary!

      1. Olly, George and Brooklin, thanks very much. Canadians are even nicer than “Minnesota Nice” folks where I live. I don’t know what the hell happened w/ our Rain Man.

        Here’s another fact that all we intellectually honest Americans know. That is socialized medicine is much worse than our flawed system. I like to engage people and Canadians are more than happy to tell personal horror stories. And, last week, an annual analysis of the top 13 socialized medicine countries was released. Canada is always near the bottom. This year they are 10th, up from #11 last year. The UK perennially leads the list. And, I know Brits w/ horror stories there as well. The longer the bureaucracy of socialized medicine exists, the worse it gets. Much of worsening is due to shortage of service because smart people who would become doctors and nurses choose other professions w/ more freedom, less hassle, and better wages.

    2. “Khadr was only 15 in 2002 when he was captured and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier during a firefight at a suspected Al Qaeda compound.”


      “In 2008, Sweden paid $500,000 to a former terror suspect for handing him over to U.S. officials in 2002, who sent him to Egypt to be tortured. In 2010, Britain agreed to pay millions of pounds to 16 former Guantánamo detainees because of its role in their U.S. detention. The same year, Australia reached an settlement with Mamdouh Habib – an Australian national held at Guantánamo — for an undisclosed amount of money.

      “The U.S., however, has yet to pay out a cent in legal settlements to the roughly 700 men it has released from Guantánamo Bay who were all held without charge. And the U.S. has never compensated, let alone apologized, to any of its post-9/11 torture victims.

      ““I can’t remember any settlement awarding damages to Guantánamo detainees, nor I think to a victim of U.S. torture,” said Dror Ladin, an attorney with the ACLU who specializes in detention-related abuses, referring to the absence of U.S. compensation to its victims.

      Part of the reason, according to Ladin, is that Congress passed a law in 2006 trying to prevent exactly that. The law bars courts from hearing detention-related damage claims from any noncitizen the U.S. has designated as an “enemy combatant.””

      1. Omar Khadr deserves his settlement and his apology from the Canadian government: Jonathan Kay
        Brainwashed child soldiers aren’t responsible for their actions

        By Jonathan Kay, for CBC News Posted: Jul 05, 2017 5:00 AM ET

        “The question of when a human being — especially a child — is morally culpable for his or her actions is complex and wrenching. Even the judge in the child-porn case described at the top of this article admitted that she was conflicted.

        “Finding the correct balance becomes impossible in a climate of hysteria and paranoia. Khadr deserves his apology, and his money — even if it won’t buy him back his lost Gitmo years. If the outlay helps us remember not to lose our moral compass the next time a child soldier comes up for judgment, it will pay dividends for years to come.”

        1. anonymous quotes elitists about the killer terrorist. The people can eat cake in his pompous, out of touch, worldview, Over 70%, including many Trudeau voters VEHEMENTLY oppose this apology and payment. Trudeau keeps changing his reason. First he said it was righteous, but saw quickly what voters and TAXPAYERS thought. Then he said it was cost effective. Now he’s blaming his political opponents.

        2. ‘I’m on Team Human’: U.S. medic who saved Omar Khadr’s life says he did right thing

          By Staff The Canadian Press

          “Bumanglag says if anyone says they would go through what Khadr did for $10 million — they’re out of their mind.”

          1. Khadr was a kid.

            As Kay said, in the linked article above:

            “If the outlay helps us remember not to lose our moral compass the next time a child soldier comes up for judgment, it will pay dividends for years to come.””

    3. 40 years and counting! Sounds like you both made a good choice. Congratulations and many more to come.

    4. Congratulations, Nick! What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversry!

      1. Prairie Rose, thanks. Nova Scotia is where my mom’s family hales. Both my grandparents and 4 aunts and uncles were born in Nova Scotia. My bride wanted to go there more than I, and she had no connection. As usual, she was right in pushing for the trip. Ate some of the best seafood ever. But, no poutine!!

  10. Recall that Turley claimed his view of Trump’s self-pardon would be consensus, i.e., supported by a majority of academics. Instead it’s been spectacularly rejected as “ABSURD” and/or WRONG by the VAST majority of his peers.

    I’ve posted for DAYS now an unarguable reason why Trump’s legal ability to self-pardon is ABSURD. And NO ONE has been able to contradict my point, namely, that if you followed Turley’s logic TRUMP COULD MURDER someone and pardon himself!

    Turley, of course, could easily resolve my claim by commenting otherwise — but he won’t because he knows I’m correct and doesn’t want to embarrass himself that his argument does in fact legally allow Trump to kill someone and pardon himself.

      1. Love Willy Wonka. I actually sent Gene Wilder a screenplay I wrote (to his Conn. home where he lived from Gilda) a few years before he died and he actually wrote me back — a highlight of my life.

        Now if you care to prove my argument wrong about Turley’s ABSURD view of self-pardon I’m WAITING…

      2. Repeal the 19th Amendment.

        Enough incoherence and hysteria!

        Not to mention that birthrate in a “death spiral.”

        1. We were all born as girls…stop hating yourself:

    1. Do you mean the same way Obama murdered US citizens without any judicial review by drone? No need for self pardon. It bumps the President’s pop points by a well trained blood thirsty public.

    2. ” … if you followed Turley’s logic TRUMP COULD MURDER someone and pardon himself! ”

      Sorry, I don’t think that observations regarding possible outcomes refute the legal argument. They just highlight that sometimes the law leads to unintended consequences – or ‘sometimes the law is a horse’s a!!’.

      But since you brought up the possibility of pardoning a murder, why not a hypothetical in which the president raises and pardons a private army and then stages a coup, long before impeachment can work its way through the process?

      If we are going to wring our hands, why worry about something as mundane as murder? If we are to worry about hypotheticals then lets worry about something really worthwhile like a coup d etat!

      1. Good post. Also, a Presidential Pardon does not apply to crimes under state law, just federal crimes. If Trump was going to shoot someone, he shouldn’t do it in NY.

    3. Trump can pardon himself for murder.

      Congress can impeach Trump.

      The People can impeach Congress.

      Read Article II, Section 2

    4. A pardon would only apply to federal murder charges–not state murder charges. The only way the federal murder charges could preclude the state murder charges is if the federal case proceeded to trial. In order for the federal case to proceed to trial the pardon would have to be ruled invalid. If the pardon is not ruled invalid, then the state murder charges may proceed to trial. Hence your “unarguable reason” is arguable.
      Nevertheless, the prospect of a self-pardoning President remains absurd on political grounds–namely, impeachment.

  11. The buck stops here. Ha,ha,ha.

    Of course just to keep it nice and muddy, it would happen 1) in the middle of empire collapse, 2) when the sitting President is probably guilty of everything under the sun except what he is being investigated for.

    Oh well, self serving pardons would at least set an elegant Felliniesque precedent to help speed up collapse as we keep slip sliding away.

    In the past generation, virtually every one of our supposedly check and balance branches of government have shown a complete loathing and disdain for actually dealing with any of these issues: stealing election based on SC partisan loyalty, fake reasons for going to war, an unprovoked preemptive war at that, banker bonuses for criminal liar loans, torture programs based on self serving secret legal memos thinner than spider thread, extra judicial assassinations of American citizens. All of this has been ignored, just left to pile up on the huge trash heap of our if we do it, it’s ok exceptionalism. Obama’s “look forward not backward” attitude couldn’t capture the essence of our dismal failure any better..

    Given this state of affairs, to imagine that any clarity will come of the current administration, the inevitable current state or evolution of that collapse, is simply wishful thinking, though I have to admit, it won’t be because of any lack of self serving effort on President Trump’s part.

  12. I view the issue much more simply: Our government was set up as a tripartite system with checks and balances and a clear separation of powers, along with the underlying assumption that the President is, first and foremost, a patriot. None of our founding fathers could ever have foreseen an immoral realty TV star with mental problems who doesn’t understand how government works being assisted in prevailing in an election by a hostile foreign government. Regardless of the lack of limiting wording, allowing the President to pardon himself or any member of his family that he allows to work in the Executive Office or on his campaign, especially for colluding with a hostile foreign government to influence the outcome of an election, would violate the fundamental principles upon which the US was founded. There is also the simple fact that our founding fathers fully and totally intended for the U.S. to be the antithesis of a monarchy. The President is NOT a king, and his children are not princes or princesses. He is accountable to the American people for his conduct. He is not superior to Congress or the Judicial Branch. Allowing him to usurp the Judicial Branch by self-pardoning, but most especially for crimes that resulted in his wrongful ascension to the Presidency in the first place, is clearly not contemplated by the Constitution.

    1. Natacha,
      Of course the ultimate test on whether you believe everything you just posted is your critique on President Obama. Using your criteria:
      1. Was he a patriot?
      2. Did he try to influence the outcome of elections in other countries?
      3. Did he respect the founder’s intent on the separation of powers?
      4. Did he perform his duties as if they were superior to the Legislative or the Judicial Branch?
      5. Did he function as the uber President?

      In essence Natacha, did he and his executive branch function outside the limits of the constitution? Did Obama act as though he were King?

      1. No he did not act as king, why lie? I know, you can not make a rational argument for your opposition to Obama. Just accept that you are a partisan hack and not a person of integrity.
        Why do you challenge his patriotism? Kenyan interloper? What a fool you are!

        1. I know, you can not make a rational argument for your opposition to Obama.

          You apparently wouldn’t recognize a rational argument if one were attempted. My post was requesting a critique of Obama’s presidency based on the criteria Natacha used for Trump. No where in my post did I support or oppose Obama.

          Did you eat paint chips as a kid?

      2. Answers:

        1. Overwhelmingly, yes, yes, yes.

        2. I don’t know or care. The issue at present is whether the current WH occupant allowed a hostile foreign power to influence US elections. There is no issue that Russia did influence the elections, that it hacked into computers and that it offered its assistance to Chump’s campaign. The only question is the extent of Chump’s involvement and that of his campaign. Those questions are being investigated. President Obama is old news on this point.

        3. Yes.

        4. No.

        5. I don’t know what this means, but I do know that most of the criticism of President Obama is racially-motivated. Never forget that foreskin face McConnell announced immediately after the election that he would do everything possible to derail anything President Obama did. President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize and still has a higher approval rating than the current WH occupant, something that really chafes racists. Much of the impetus to repeal Obamacare is based on racism, plus the intense desire to give tax breaks to medical device companies and millionaires and billionaires.

        No President Obama never acted like he was King, unlike Chump.

        1. Thank you Natacha. I appreciate the response.

          My opinion, for what its’ worth; if you are at all being objective, you should be concerned with question 2.Additionally, President Obama is old news on this point. Your original post reflected on the intent of the founding fathers. If they are relevant today, then so is the performance of every President after them.

          Question 5: JT has written and spoken extensively on this subject. He has testified before Congress as well. It’s worth being informed about, especially if one is to objectively assess our 3 branches of government and the balance of power.

    2. Natacha –

      “…a tripartite system with checks and balances…” Thank you and the first “check” was against Obama.

      “Check” is what Jay and Washington placed against Barrack Hussein Obama; a “strong check.”

      The Jay/Washington letter of July, 1787, raised the presidential requirement from “citizen” to “natural born citizen” to place a “strong check” against foreign allegiances by the commander-in-chief by requiring that the president “…be born of a father who is a citizen,…” as quoted from the definition of “natural born citizen” in the Law of Nations, 1758, which was “…continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, sitting..” according to the letter of thanks, to Charles Dumas from Ben Franklin, December, 1786, for copies of that legal text and reference of the era.

      Law of Nations
      Book 1, Ch 19, Section 212

      “…I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”

      1. Even Chump has backed off of the birther crap. Why can’t you let it go, too?

        BTW: why hasn’t Chump shown us the things his investigators dug up in Hawaii? You know, the stuff he mentioned in that interview with Meredith Vieira? He said we “won’t believe” what they found. Well, what was it–more of Chump’s bull?

        1. George, I’m not sure who is Obama really is or who his father is. We do know his birth certificate & SSI number are fake.

          Because, you know, two impecunious college students would engage in expensive international travel in order to experience the splendors of Kenyan obstetric care and so the man could introduce his pregnant ho’ to his legal wife and her children. And, of course, it’s just gauche to think someone might give birth to a child in the city in which she actually lives. And, of course, only the sheeple would think that a student in her class and part of her circle of friends might be the sire of this child; the people in the know understand it’s a randomly selected 55 year old married man who lives 15 miles from her home. And, of course, in on the conspiracy are Gov. Lingle’s health commissioner, the registrar of vital statistics, and her little dog too.

  13. Mass Murderers, War Criminals

    The U.S. Government / Mainstream Media, Trump, Bush, Obama, Netanyahu & Co-conspirators have Murdered, Maimed Millions of Men, Women & Children.
    These Mass Murderers, War Criminals have blood on their hands.

  14. I’m less than fascinated by this topic of the hypothetical self-pardon. How about we get some insights into the de facto constitutional notion that holds you are automatically pardoned for all crimes once you lose a Presudetial election. What happened to the lost emails, destruction of evidence and payola investigations we were assured were “ongoing” against Hillary and the Clinton Foundation?

    1. You can not be this dense, it was all a political farce. Why are Colin Powell’s destroyed e-mails not a concern to you? Or Shrub’s administration using the RNC’s server and then destroying them. Zeus, you are such a hypocrite in your defense of things. Kind of like turley, a libertarian lawyer, what a hack.

    2. mespo,

      I was wondering if it wasn’t so much about a self-pardon but getting the message out to HRC, Obama & those around them that it’s Trump who now controls the power to pardon. And they may wish to consider helping him or risk going to jail for all of the crimes of HRC, Obama & their co-conspirators.

      1. Haha. Obama committing crimes….More Pravda Faux News trope. Keep drinkin the kool-aid, comrade, keep-drinkin the kool-aid.

        In the real world, Barack HUSSEIN Obama was the greatest President of the United States since Harry S. Truman. And moreover, just to really set you off, he probably dated white women before he was married. Smoke all that, oky.

        This is to oky.

  15. Reminds me of the Barber of Seville:

    The barber shaves every man who does not shave himself.
    Who shaves the barber?

  16. If anyone would try a self pardon it would be our so called president because he has no sense of right and wrong, of propriety or of the damage he is doing to the country. Or he just doesn’t care. . Unfortunately the founding fathers never guessed a president would act so outrageously so they never thought of one pardoning himself. They were very naive in their way, but their naivite didn’t backfire for 240 years or so. They would never have dreamed of a Trump in a million years. They thought a complete immoral person would never be elected by the US electorate. Now it’s happened and nobody knows quite what to do or what can be done. The founding fathers made the mistake of thinking anyone who acceded to the presidnecy would have a requisite amount of common sense and would care about the future of the country. They have been shown to have been wrong. They were blindsided with optimism about the government they had devised. They never expected the likes of Trump. They never expected that the electorate would be so stupid as to elect someone like Trump. They thought presidents would be statesmen who believed in the US governmemt and not potential dictators. They were far too trusting. They should have made rules for such an eventuality.

    1. You sure think highly of yourself when insulting so many others.

    2. “They never expected that the electorate would be so stupid as to elect someone like Trump.”
      Thank God, Louise, we have someone as wise and accomplished as you who deigns to enlighten our every foible with the wisdom of the ages and to predict with precision and grace the results of those foolish errors. Now let’s get to something really important. What are your lottery picks?

    3. Louise, I don’t think that Trump is stupid. I think he is careless with other people’s resources.
      As far as the electorate being stupid, I think they have enough faith in the institutions that are the bedrock of our government, like the Fed, Wall St.,The MIC and have watched for years the office of the President be used for many a function that has done them no good. So they ask why not give it him a try. Yes and to spite the establishment as part of making that choice.
      I don’t see that as stupid. I see that as those voters exercising their right to make the choice they want based on their own self interest. If at the end of his term he has turned out to be another corrupt politician then they will decide what they want next.
      Make a a change, make a suggestion for someone that you believe has your best interests at heart or you will soon need therapy or a padded room.

    4. The Founders knew well the hearts of men. So, they devised checks and balance to try to prevent evil men from doing much damage if they got in power.

      Evil men have been chipping away at our foundations for some time. Why else be concerned about Imperial Presidencies?

      These discussions of the limits of power are extremely important and have not happened because “our” guy, has been in power, be the brand a D or an R. People have blindly allowed “their guy” to stretch those limits inappropriately for no other reason than he was “their guy”.

      On purpose or not, Trump is sure getting those conversations going.

    5. The impeachment exception in the pardon clause belies your supposition respecting the naïve optimism of the framers of The Constitution.

      That goes to Louise.

    6. Louise,
      Your arrogance is breathtaking. You presume to know every discussion our founding fathers had regarding our form of government and then conclude your opinion to be far more enlightened than they.

      You make a strong case for one thing the founders did not include; a requirement for every potential voter to pass a civics exam to be eligible to vote. And then maintain some level of civics literacy for continued eligibility.

      You and your ilk are a clear and present danger to our constitutional republic. (example: the reelection of DWS)

      1. That’s going way too far. Louise is anything but a clear and present danger to The United States. But your proposal . . . (or is it an accusation against Louise?) . . . for a “civics literacy test” would be.

        Try harder to distinguish between your own versus your target’s thoughts.

        1. But your proposal . . . (or is it an accusation against Louise?) . . . for a “civics literacy test” would be.

          Then explain why a civics exam is necessary to become a citizen of this country but no civics literacy assessment is necessary for natural born citizens?

          1. So it is your proposal? It read like a projection on Louise.

            A civics exam was made necessary to become a naturalized citizen of The United States primarily because Protestant Americans were worried about Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Italy and Poland–amongst other Catholic nations–putting loyalty to The Pope ahead of loyalty to The Constitution of The United States of America. Meanwhile, during the heyday of statutory segregation in the former Confederate States of America, The South adopted civics tests to prevent African Americans from exercising the franchise. Whence the second part of your current loaded question was contra-factual for a hundred years.

            If you want to make a proposal of your own, then why not make it straight-up? Why this coyness, Olly?
            Is this supposed to be your civics test for me?

        2. Louise is anything but a clear and present danger to The United States.

          She isn’t a clear and present danger. She is doing her best to make the world just..a..little…bit…worse. Common type on these boards.

      2. Arrogance is an unwarranted presumption of superiority of place or position. As such, it more accurately describes Olly’s behavior than Louise’s.

        1. Then explain why a civics exam is necessary to become a citizen of this country but no civics literacy assessment is necessary for natural born citizens?

          Come on Diane, why would a civics assessment be deemed necessary for citizenship?

          I’ll wait.

            1. Did you read the reply on the subject of arrogance? Protestant Americans have an unwarranted presumption of superiority of place or position with respect to Catholic immigrants while Southern whites remain equally presumptuous respecting those natural born citizens who are descended from former slaves.

              Please answer your own questions. Stop presuming them to be unanswerable.

    7. Usual liberal ranting full of spelling errors common to the uneducated and wild accusations comleely unsupported by anything except the hate speech of a foreign ideology.

      As usual the idiotic ending common to couch potato mentalities since ALL it would take is a movement to have one’s representatives in Congress submit a Bill to Amend. but I err as the rejection of citizenship in favor of allegiance to a foreign ideology is an automatic disqualifier for that route.

      The loss column for the foreigner lobbyiest is getting longer and longer. Next question is the writer registered as a foriegn agent?

      1. “. . . comleely . . .” Really? Assuming that comleely is correctly spelled, what does it mean? Does comleely hail from the lexicon of a “foriegn” or a foreign ideology? Is comleely more hateful to Michael’s ears than “covfefe” or “lobbyiest,” for that matter?

        On the contrary assumption, is Michael’s use of “comleely,” “lobbyiest” and “foriegn” a wild accusation or a liberal rant? Is Michael educated? Is Michael a “foriegn” agent or a foreigner “lobbyiest?” Surely Micheal is not Mikhail. Surely Aarethun is not a Russian name. Surely–not?

  17. Article II
    Section 2

    “The President shall be commander-in-chief…and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

    The American Founders wrote it.

    All Americans can read it.

    The judicial branch would be compelled, under the threat of impeachment, to find that a presidential self-pardon fully comports with the Constitution.

    Congress may impeach the President for issuing a self-pardon.

    The People may impeach Congress for that act.

    1. Who can be impeached? President, Vice-President, Supreme Court and other federal court Judges and Justices, Any member of Congress. All that amounts to is step one the Grand Jury phase. it must be followed by a trial to have any practical meaning. For the President or Vice President it means removal from office. That’s it. To get around the sticky question of what next Nixon chose to resign and made a deal with his successor Vice President Ford to be pardoned. In the two cases cases where impeachment led to a trial phase there was no conviction (Andrew Johnson and William Clinton.)

    2. This is a strong, clear, and persuasive argument. I only differ with the “compelled” portion. However, because there is a non-frivolous argument for “ambiguity” in the original text, the door is opened for the admission of other authorities and evidence regarding the unbelievable concept of a self-pardon by a sitting President. Not having done any research regarding the potential existence of such authorities or other evidence, I cannot pontificate further. Although, I am horrified that such a subject has become a empirical and very necessary topic of conversation.

      This is to accurate george

    3. In order for any pardon to be valid, that pardon must specify the offenses for which it was granted as well as the offender to whom it was granted. In order for a President to grant himself a “valid” pardon, that President must specify the offenses for which he or she grants himself or herself that pardon. The very possibility of a “blanket” presidential self-pardon necessarily presupposes a process of judicial review of the validity of the pardon at issue. Whence the judiciary is not compelled “to validate” a presidential self-pardon, even if it partially comports with the Constitutional power of The President. Otherwise, The President’s power to grant himself or herself a pardon would nullify the judiciary’s power to review the validity of presidential pardons.

      Neither is our system of checks and balances an endless game of rock, paper, scissors, nor is any ordinary game of rock, paper, scissors without an end.

      1. Diane – I don’t think the judiciary has the right to review a Presidential pardon since it is part of the Constitution.

        1. Paul Schulte,..
          The FBI conducted an investigation into the Marc Rich pardon.
          The FBI’s report on their investigation was released late last year.
          The head of the prosecutor’s office that convicted Rich initiated a criminal investigation to look into the pardon.
          And the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings about the pardon.
          At the end of the day, I don’t think there was a heck of lot the FBI, the prosecutor, or the Senate JC could do about it.
          As you said, it doesn’t look like the judiciary can overturn a Presidential pardon.
          The Marc Rich pardon also resurfaced during Eric Holder’s 2009 confirmation hearings.
          Holder was the key figure in Clinton’s DOJ who arrainged the Rich pardon.

      2. Diane,
        I don’t think that President Ford’s pardon of Nixon specified the offenses.
        It was a blanket pardon for offenses Nixon committed or may have committed during the Nixon administration.

        1. Tnash,

          I don’t think any grand jury ever indicted Nixon for any offenses; even though the grand jury impaneled for that purpose probably would have done so had Nixon not resigned. Otherwise, Ford’s pardon of Nixon makes substantially less sense. Consequently, Nixon never had to present his pardon in a court of law. And that is the only reason the validity of that pardon was not subject to judicial review.

          Paul Schulte, the power to grant pardons and the validity of those pardons themselves are separate issues which presuppose separate powers rather than nullification of one power by the other power. The Constitution is not a passel of antinomies.

          1. Diane,
            I think you are correct that Nixon was never never indicted by a grand jury.
            I don’t kow for sure if prosecutor(s) intended to move in that direction…I think they did plan on it, but I’d have to check.
            There have been thousands of Presidential pardons.
            It would be interesting to know if any of those pardons, issued after an indictment but before a conviction, were ever challenged in court.
            I think prosecutors would have an uphill battle, but I don’t know of any case history.

            1. I forget the details, but Prof. Turley mentions a ruling from Justice Marshall in a case challenging the validity of a pardon that Andrew Jackson granted to a man whose name I can’t remember. It can be found in the professor’s first discussion of the pardon issue respecting Trump. The idea being that the pardon does not necessarily preclude prosecution until it is presented in a court of law for that very purpose. In any case, since Justice Marshall upheld the validity the pardon in the case at issue, I figure that pardons are subject to judicial review and that a Judge would not be compelled to uphold the validity a pardon.

          2. The grand jury named Nixon a co-conspirator but did not return an indictment. Leon Jaworski was convinced that an indictment of a sitting president was unconstitutional.

  18. All citizens should have the right to be pardoned. The President should not be the only citizen unable to be pardoned.

    1. The president is just like every other citizen. He can be pardoned by any president not himself.

      1. That would be a reasonable expectation. Too bad they didn’t put it in writing. Now we’re stuck with an insoluble mess and a jackass in the White House.

        1. Impeachment is still available, Louise. Likewise, Pence could pardon Trump without the present controversy..

    2. By Act of Congress perhaps or in an Adam Clayton Powell manuever by re-election perhaps but that might be the subject for another Amendment initiative. Given the couch potato atttude so prevalent what chance would it have of even getting approved for discussion – especially in Congress which had just convicted?

      1. Michael raises a good point. It will not be enough to impeach and remove Trump from office. He must be deprived of eligibility for office, since Pence will pardon Trump. Hence, no criminal trial nor any jury verdict. Does anyone think Trump would admit guilt and not seek re-election?

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